CNU Baseball Sweeps Ferrum in Season-Opening Doubleheader, 11-4 and 9-2

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FERRUM, Va. — The Christopher Newport baseball team opened the 2018 season with a doubleheader sweep at Ferrum College on Friday, using a 10-run 7th inning in the first game to win 11-4 before pulling away for a 9-2 win in the second. 

With the sweep, the Captains are 2-0 to start the year while improving to 14-4 in season openers under head coach John Harvell

Behind sophomore Thomas Packert and junior Austin Slough (1-0), the Captains exploded for 11 runs in the season opener. Packert did not surrender a hit until the fifth inning and Slough earned the win in relief after an impressive debut. Offensively, CNU scored 10 times in the top of the 7th to blow open the game one victory. 

Packert allowed one baserunner in the first on a hit-by-pitch, but he followed up that slight mis-step retiring 11 straight batters to get into the fifth inning with no hits allowed. After a walk and a flyout, the sophomore right-hander finally allowed his first hit on a bloop single over the third baseman's head, prompting his exit after a stellar season debut.  Packert finished 4.2 innings with one hit and four strikeouts in the game. 

His long relief came from Slough, who worked around 3 CNU errors in the fifth to hold the Panthers to just a 2-1 lead. He would then toss three strong innings with four strikeouts with just two hits allowed. The Captains' offense came to his aid in a big way with the 10-run seventh. 

In that frame, Ryan Grubbs delivered a one-out single and rookie Conner Clark doubled him over to third base. Next up, Jordan Mason singled into right field to tie the game at 2 runs apiece. From there, the Captains' patience at the plate paid dividends as they would load the bases and score four runs with five straight free passes. After Ferrum picked up the second out in the inning, Grubbs and Clark each added RBI walks to set up Mason for his second RBI single of the inning as he delivered a two run shot up the middle to cap the double-figure scoring performance. 

With the game in hand, 11-2, Slough and Alex Biddison finished out the game on the mound for the Captains as they picked up the win. 

In game two, Logan Harrelson stymied Ferrum for four innings and gave way to Ryan Powell (1-0) for the win in relief. Senior Brandon Ginch belted the first home run of the season for the Captains while Austin Henry delivered 3 RBI.

Again the Captains fell behind, as Ferrum scored in the bottom of the first to take an early lead. In the top of the second, though, Ginch led off with a solo homer to tie the game and kick-start a four-run inning. Clark and Mason had back-to-back singles to set up Henry for an RBI double. Craig Johnson then stepped in and hit a 2-run single into right field to plate both Henry and Mason. 

The home team cut the lead to two in the bottom of the fifth against Powell, but the junior faced the minimum over the next two innings to put himself in line for the win. Brian Owens tossed a perfect 8th inning, striking out the side, and senior closer Joe Burris rounded out the pitching performance with two strikeouts and just four batters faced in the ninth. 

CNU tacked on four runs in the sixth and one more in the seventh for the final margin of 9-2. Henry notched a two-run single and rookie Seth Woodard added a two-run knock of his own. In the seventh, Mason capped his stellar opening day performance with his fourth and final RBI of the day.  

Mason was 4-for-10 with 4 RBI and 3 runs scored while leading off in both games, while Johnson and Henry each added 3-for-10 performances with 3 RBI each.

The Captains will play their home opener in their next action, hosting N.C. Wesleyan at Captains Park on Wednesday, February 14 at 2:00 pm.